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Day Fifteen: San Juan de Ortega to Cardenuela Riopico

Distance: 12.9 Steps: 19,874 Time total: 4.5hrs.

Was an unpleasant nights sleep last night in the big Albergue. Our room wasn’t full either. There was a symphony of snorers, Mr D said one lady close by made a donkey sound snore mixed in with the other different variations of snoring it was a real snorefest! I didn’t get much sleep listening to the snorers, the door to the outside opening & closing with loud squeaking  & creaking sounds with people going to the toilet, & two bright orange lights that glared in my direction all night long. I would get cold & crawl into my sleeping bag, then get hot & have to struggle out of it. Not to mention my sore skin rash itchy & burning.  It was utterly useless trying to sleep.

Most people got up early, packed & left. For them it was a long 26km into Burgos. We had planned to do two short days into our second big city on the Camino Frances. So we weren’t in a hurry, as long as we were out by 8am – Albergue rules. Got up lazily after 6.30am & slowly packed. My rash was still quite obvious but the redness had gone down considerably & wasn’t as painful as it was yesterday. The Albergue toilets stunk like the drop toilets on the Bibbulmun Track no doubt due to all that garlic soup eating! The showers are grotty as well & the drains were blocked up yesterday when I had a shower, I stood in a lake of water.

We left in the cold once again, I miss the nice cool mornings we had earlier in the walk. We followed John & his tour group out of town – took all of 2 minutes that! Mr D was trying to find the Camino markings looking at his E-trex he did not notice he walked over the yellow arrow. John in charge of his group told them to follow Mr D as he couldn’t see the arrow either! There was a few spots where you walked over these wide gratings, you almost feel that your boot can go through it & you fall in stuck. John’s wife had a little panic at one such spot & he had to coax her through exhaustively.

We arrived in the town Ages 3 times the size of San Juan with a population of 60. We entered quite an unusual different kind of cafe with indoor plants, pictures & oranaments creating a unique homely feel. It was packed inside due to Pilgrim rush hour for breakfast. The older quirky Spanish woman behind the counter had a real loud annoying voice that grated on Mr D’s nerves. In fact, the more people in the room, the louder her voice got! I had a chocolate croissant with the most anaemic sick looking & tasting cup of tea to date. Mr D had two Cafe Solo & a crossiant. Those crossiants tasted a bit stale & I remembered seeing 2 birds dancing in the basket of bread rolls sitting on the ground outside the side of the cafe on the way in.

Martin & Anna came by for breakfast too & joined our table. This was to be the last we see of our new Melbourne friends as they planned to walk into Burgos today. Tomorrow they skip the Meseta with a train ride to Leon then continue the Camino from there. It was really nice to meet this lovely couple & made me reflect on all those special people we have met already so far on the Camino, knowing that we won’t see them ever again but there is more people we are to meet on The Way.  The Camino is a magical place with half of it being the people you come into contact & get to know. We stayed longer than usual sitting & chatting. It felt good not to rush.

So we left Ages, said our farewells as Martin & Anna disappeared down the road. We went through the town Atapuerca – home to our earliest ancestors. Prehistoric caves there held the earliest human remains ever discovered in Europe. We stopped to strip down as the day was again warming up with clear blue skies. Mr D noticed here some stitching had come undone on his brand new Aarn backpack & was feeling quite disappointed. He has had a few people come up to him taking photos of his backpack & interested to know where it is from. John was one, and one man returning to SJPDP for his second time after doing 3 trips so far on the Camino back to back was greatly interested. Mr D is considering getting paid a commission from the Aarn company to promote their line of backpacks.

The next part was back up a steep hill to the top where there was another memorial cross. You see these scattered along the Camino. Mostly they are rock piles on the side with photos of deceased loved ones & messages written on the rocks. It was alongside the military fence & we both jumped at the sudden sound of a blast as they were practicing or checking their defence armoury. At the top we spotted Burgos the big city – it looked so close but still another 4 hours away. We joked about going to Burgos today because it’s right there – you can reach out & touch it! But no, we wanted an easy day so we ended up going down hill then on the open country road which is what would probably take us to Burgos. Pounding the road is tough on the feet & Mr D said his heels felt funny, like there was a lump rolling around under the skin. The Pilgrim man from Italy walking with his dog passed us by – the one that was sleeping in the wash room at the Viana Albergue. It is a cute little dog but felt sorry that the dogs paws were probably burning on the hot bitumen road.

We were hoping for a B n B just past Cardenuela Riopico but it was completo full! Mr D does not like going backwards but we had to turn back into town & find an Albergue. So we are at Santa Fe Albergue & it is a nice find! Doesn’t look much on the outside but we got a private double bed room with own bathroom & balcony so couldn’t be happier! We had a big delicious lunch sharing a huge hamburger & patatas bravas dish. Then it was just a ‘zero’ afternoon resting & catching up on social media. Mr D watched the New Hustle movie – a feature length documentary that follows 3 of Australia’s most successful start ups. One of these being Canva featuring Melanie Perkins, Mr D’s daughter. He also accidentally found out the winner of Australian Survivor on Facebook which is not what he wanted!

We finished the night seating with a group of Pilgrims, an odd assortment; a Frenchman that could not speak English so sat there not able to join any conversation, a German, Englishman & couple from Poland. It started off uncomfortable, but after 4 bottles of red vino, we were all chatting & laughing away quite merrily. The Frenchman went to bed early & I went when the 5th bottle of wine came out! Don’t know how Mr D is going to make it up the stairs tonight to our room!

About the author AmblingRose

We are keen hikers based in Perth, Western Australia. We have hiked 7 New Zealand multi-day walk trails, the 800km Camino Frances in Spain, the Cape to Cape in WA, Mount Kinabalu in Borneo, Malaysia. We have hiked sections of the 1003 km Bibbulmun Track in WA with plans to complete an end to end this year in Spring, 2019.

All posts by AmblingRose →

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